Caregiver’s Corner: Sleeping Well

By Naomi Edwards:

Good sleep is something that is hard to come by, and with everything going on in the world, a full, restful night’s sleep is something that is few and far between for many. There are countless things that could be interfering with your sleep, but it is clear that without a good night’s sleep, we are unable to be our best selves. Whether it is the change of the season, the stress of COVID, the political headache plaguing many of us, or something completely different, hopefully you will be able to use some of these tips to get your sleeping schedule back on track!
Good sleep doesn’t just start when you climb into bed. It is important to prepare
yourself throughout the day. During your day, try to get some sort of exercise, even if it is just a brisk walk around the block. Not only is this good for your health, but it will also keep you up less during the night! A study in the journal Sleep found that women who exercised for about three-and-a-half hours a week had an easier time falling asleep than women who exercised less often. Just be careful not to exercise too late in the day, as exercising too close to bedtime can be too stimulating.
The next thing that you can do is to start a sleep ritual. “Rituals help signal the body and mind that it’s coming to be time for sleep”, explains Dr. Carlson, a professor at Harvard. Whether this is reading, drinking a cup of tea, or taking a bath, a ritual is vital in preparing for restful slumber. Also, remember to put down your cell phone! Screen time right before you try to sleep is not good. Try plugging your cell phone in on the other side of your room or even in a
different room if you feel too tempted to scroll until the late hours of the night. Additionally, you can put your phone on “Do Not Disturb” throughout the night, which will silence any phone calls or texts, making sure not to wake you as you sleep.
Lastly, deep breathing and meditation have been shown to be extremely beneficial before bed when people are struggling with sleep. Breathing from your belly rather than your chest can activate the relaxation response and lower your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels to help you drift off easily. Once you have gotten in bed and are trying to fall asleep, try
doing this breathing exercise to really relax your body:
Lay down in bed and close your eyes.
 Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
 Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.
 Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can while contracting your abdominal muscles. The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but your other hand should move very little.
 Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls. Count slowly as you exhale.
We hope that these suggestions will help you relax and achieve better sleeping patterns. Remember that we are living in a very stressful time, and it is normal that this pressure will inevitably affect your sleep. Don’t forget to ask for help if you need it, take time for yourself, and remember that you are loved!
https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/getting-better-sleep.htm
https://www.health.harvard.edu/sleep/8-secrets-to-a-good-nights-sleep